Day 6: Watch "Not All Who Wander Are Lost" and discuss your own career path decisions thus far

Today’s task is a good one. You’re tasked with tuning in to the Masterclass webinar recording “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” by the fantastic @g33klady.

Hilary, a seasoned Senior Quality Engineer, will be taking us on a journey through her personal career path and sharing some invaluable insights. She’ll delve into her transition into testing, the various job titles she’s held, and the significance of grabbing opportunities when they arise. Hilary will also open up about mentorship, professional development, and her own battles with anxiety.

One thing you’ll love about Hilary is her candidness. She’ll encourage you to be honest with yourself, make pros-cons lists, engage in networking opportunities, and listen attentively to your own needs and desires.

After watching the webinar recording, it’s time to get involved! Create a post in reply to this and share your own career path decisions thus far. We’d love to hear about the choices you’ve made, the challenges you’ve faced, and the lessons you’ve learned along the way.

Oh, and here’s an extra reason to take part! The webinar recording was previously pro content but is now free to all members for this task and throughout June 23. So make the most of this opportunity!

I am intrigued to learn from everyone’s career path reflections!


Why complete this task?

  1. Gain invaluable insights: By tuning in to Hilary’s Masterclass webinar recording, you’ll gain access to the personal career journey and insights of a seasoned Senior Quality Engineer. Hilary will share her experiences, including her transition into testing, diverse job titles held, and the significance of seizing opportunities. These insights can provide you with inspiration and guidance for your own career path.

  2. Acquire candid advice: Hilary’s candidness is one of her remarkable qualities. She encourages honesty, self-reflection, and creating pros-cons lists to help you make informed decisions. She emphasizes the importance of networking and attentively listening to your own needs and desires. This advice can empower you to navigate your career journey more effectively.

  3. Community engagement: After watching the webinar recording, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in a discussion by sharing your own career path decisions. This creates a supportive and collaborative environment where you can learn from others, gain diverse perspectives, and receive feedback on your own experiences.

  4. Free Access: Here’s an extra incentive to participate! The webinar recording, which was previously exclusive pro content, is now freely available to all members for this task and throughout June 23. Seize this opportunity to benefit from the valuable content without any additional cost.

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Day6

I love it that this task is a way to reflect on your own career path or the journey you had taken. There were many things I liked about the video

  1. Courage to share her journey
  2. Pros and Cons List particularly - I never do this and even if I did i would be indecisive
  3. Giving a second chance by being considerate to herself
  4. Standing up for herself.

If I reflect back on my journey so far it seems like I have traveled a long path and survived it.

So I began my career in 2014 as a C# developer and continued till Jan 2017.
In Feb 2017 I started working as a tester (junior position) my designation was Test Engineer.I was a performance tester. I worked on LoadRunner and Jmeter with Java as the programming Language. This was for a span of 3 months.

From May 2017 I worked as a functional tester where I only had to test the application and log bugs. Initially, I enjoyed this role but later I felt it was monotonous and got bored quite early.By this time a year had passed by.

At the start of 2018, I had started learning selenium. Since I already knew Java it was easier for me to understand and grasp concepts. Later I transitioned into an automation team where i not only tested but did a bit of automation too.I was promoted to the role of Senior Test Engineer by then.

And then i thought it was time to make the first switch So in Dec 2018 I had moved out of my first job to take on the next role as a Senior Analyst where I had to only test. I was hired for an automation position but did not get desired work.I left that job within a year due to a toxic work environment and a lot of other personal challenges.

In 2019 December I moved on to my third job where I worked as a Consultant. This was supposed to be a Techno Functional Role as per the Job Description but ended up being a purely technical role to my surprise. The only challenge I had here was unrealistic expectations which made me to abandon this job too.I worked for a banking client which had some unruly processes in place.I did not enjoy the work I was doing also.

In 2020 I joined a midsize firm as an automation engineer as a senior. The customer I had worked with was a reputed insurance company in the US. The problem now was having worked in large-size firms and testing teams it took a lot of time for me to adjust to things here.Plus adding onto it was the pandemic where we transitioned to a Work from Home and things started getting even more difficult. Not having an idea of the domain and no proper knowledge transfer made things a lot tougher.I decided to quit this firm within a period of 8 months.I had hesitated all this while thinking that it would get difficult for me without a job.

Sometimes a break is all you need to set right things is what I understood in this gap. After a break, I rejoined work in Jan 2021 as a Senior Engineering Lead .I was on probation for 6 months.I had to test and automate functionality for Applications in the HR and Payroll Domain. Although the transition to a new domain was difficult with the help of a supportive manager and onsite counterparts I began to make progress at work. During this period I was promoted twice and now I’m into a completely new aspect of testing Security and learning everything related to it.I love my job and team too because of the culture.

I have not planned for what’s next but I definitely can reset a lot more times without feeling ashamed to do it. Because all that you have is one life and you decide what you get to do with it.

No regrets :smile:

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Moderator’s Edit.
Trigger Warning: The following post contains references to suicide.

Not All Who Wander Are Lost in very deed. That masterclass was awesome, not least because of the sheer honesty and courage it showed.

My career, if you could call it that, is probably better described as a path mapped out by a drunk on a blind donkey. I’ve made very few career choices: instead I’ve blundered through whatever I’ve been pushed into.

So… I finished school in 1984 and took a 4 year Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Geology. Not much to say there except that I hit the limits of my innate ability to memorize important information during this time and had to teach myself how to study. Traumatic. Do not recommend.

1989 and 1990 - tried to get work as a geologist. I managed a 3 month stint as a field hand/junior geo in Far North Queensland which ended when during my 2 week vacation back home a cyclone came through and destroyed all the equipment.

1991 - took a teaching certificate course. This was probably the biggest mistake I ever made because…

1992 - 1993 - Tried and failed to get work as a teacher, then when I eventually did get work, I lasted a year before I crashed and burned with a combo of depression, PTSD, and a bunch of other issues. I still, 20 years later, cringe inside if I encounter teenagers.

1994 - 2000 - Slow, painful recovery, back with the parents who by this time were getting kind of tired of dysfunctional eldest kid not being able to manage anything resembling being a normal adult. This included at least 2 suicidal episodes where I was hanging on by my fingernails as it were, and desperately trying not to take that last step. It’s not entirely a joke that I owe my continued existence to my cat of the time. Knowing the cat wouldn’t have anyone to look after her was what kept me from offing myself - I was in a bad enough place that I knew I would be doing everyone I cared about a favor by taking myself and my problems out of their lives. By 1998 I’d recovered enough to start a software programming degree, one focused on online technologies, and including - astonishingly enough - a module on testing. I graduated in November, 2000.

2001 - 2002 - Another bout of unemployment, since the post Y2K depression rather lingered in Australia. During this time I met my husband online, he came out to visit and we became engaged. The job I got as a programmer died when the company went bankrupt, so instead of him migrating to Australia, I migrated to the US. We married in late 2002.

2003 - 2005 - I got work as… I’m not entirely sure what, actually. I was nominally a tester, but I wound up administering the network, testing, designing software, and anything else that could be thrown at me. I also got diagnosed with narcolepsy, which had the added side benefit of explaining why I could not handle late nights and had an immense amount of trouble staying awake during the day even when I was as close to well-rested as I get.

2006 - 2012 - I actually worked as a tester after moving from Houston to south-east Pennsylvania. My husband found himself a better job as well. I enjoyed the job at first, but gradually got more burned out as time passed because nothing ever changed - there’d be all these supposed commitments to improving the methodology but the next crisis would see everything revert to the norm. I suspect the root cause was that the owners of the company had started it as three guys in a shed hacking code and had never really been able to shift out of that mindset into something that could support a company with 100-ish employees. So, after a particularly rough year, I was laid off and started the next round of job hunting.

2013 - now - I started at another small/middle-sized company, this one in the payroll industry. Yet again my position was basically “tester” although the actual title was something more like software quality analyst. It didn’t really matter because I was the only tester. A department of one, as it were. I’m still working in the same team, but in that time, the ownership has changed 4 times, I’ve gone through six corporate emails, and I’m still doing the same thing. The biggest worry for me at the moment is what will happen when the project to convert all our clients over to the larger company’s platform and the software I’ve tested and supported for 10 years gets decommissioned. At this point, nobody knows.

So yeah. Most have my career decisions were made because a possible career exploded under me and I needed to do something. It’s not a methodology I’d recommend.

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My Career Path: Graphic Designer > Web Design > UX Design > Program Specialist (nonprofit/nontech) > Tester

When I look back at my career path, I can see that most of it was guided by other people’s advice and expectations of me. I have always been creative/artistic, so in high school, I got interested in graphic design. It seemed like a natural fit, but I always struggled with how subjective and open-ended the work of a designer was. I started getting into web design because it provided helpful structures and limitations within the creative process…but I still didn’t find the work satisfying.

Then my sister, who was working at Facebook at the time, recommended that I look into UX design because I had a keen eye for detail. When I learned that it was research-based and human-centered, I was sold. I enjoyed knowing that my work was solving an actual problem for people and loved learning about how people behave. I took a UX BootCamp with General Assembly and started applying for internships. I happened to find myself in companies that had never worked with a UX Designer before, so there was a lack of understanding of my work and a lack of support and expertise for me to grow from.

I was pretty discouraged by those experiences, but I still tried to continue pursuing the work. I found serious obstacles in putting together my portfolio, as I felt I was putting my identity on the line. Creativity had been so deeply tied to my sense of self, so I found that I got caught up in the weight I placed on my creative output. As I found myself procrastinating and pushing off the work, I was looking for something to bring me fulfillment again.

I have always enjoyed working with kids, and I remembered I had a connection with a director at a nonprofit that I used to be involved with. I reached out looking to volunteer, but was offered a role as Program Specialist where I would be helping launch a new afterschool program in the community. I gladly took the offer. During that time I learned a lot about the nonprofit sector and found purpose working in education, but I knew that I was not working in my strengths.

After a year, I decided to leave and try getting back into tech. I thought I would be going back into UX, but ran into the same habits of avoidance and fear. A close relative in tech recruiting asked if UX was related to Quality Assurance, which I knew nothing about at the time, so I started looking into it. I discovered that there were overlapping principles between UX and QA/Software Testing and noticed that there was a thread in my work related to quality and excellence. In QA, there was space for curiosity and problem-solving without the pressure of artistic creativity that stifled me before. It was a more straightforward path related to acquiring technical skills and still using creativity, but in the realm of strategy and thought more than artistry.

I studied for the ISTQB, learned about RSTA, and have taken several online courses on uDemy and LinkedIn Learning to learn new tools and skills. The more I have learned about QA/testing, the more I have seen how diverse and interesting the role can be. Having enjoyed aspects of my previous role, I knew that education was something I didn’t want to let go of. That brings me to today, where I am hoping to bring together my insight from UX, my new skills in testing, and my long-time passion for education in the pursuit of a testing role in EdTech.

Something I appreciate learning, especially through MoT is that there are communities and resources to lean on in the testing world. I still face challenges of feeling underqualified and inexperienced, but taking part in this challenge has encouraged me to keep going. The most helpful thing has been doing the introspective work of understanding my strengths, my weaknesses, and my “why” to keep me on track.

Even if no one reads this, I’ve enjoyed reflecting back on my journey. I am gaining lots of useful insights and resources here, so I just want to send my gratitude <3

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My career path in tech has been short. I started with Bootcamp and did a Java Backend apprenticeship immediately following. Then, I did a Open Source fellowship that focused on test automation. I was accepted into The Collab Lab after that. We completed a React project in an Agile environment.

I started working QA full-time after that and I’ve been in the same position ever since.

Before tech, I worked as an Executive Assistant for 15 years, then worked for Instacart for 5 years. I went from direct service to people management with Instacart. I didn’t like being in management, but I did enjoy coaching my team.

Now, I’m at a bit of a crossroads. I have a steady job with lots of good people. The pay is not keeping up with the cost of living in my area. This is kind of forcing my hand in terms of career transition. My company doesn’t have a real progression for testers. Also, I’d like to work for a company that owns their product (I work for a consulting firm now). Consulting effects the type and depth of testing that I’m allowed to perform.

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Love this one!
I think the main thing I take from my career path is asking the questions start with ‘what if’. I believe my journey has led me to where I am mostly because what I though at the time where small decisions and risks, they all played a huge impact in my life!

My life has been: Artist (or trying to be one) > Cashier at ZARA > Customer Services & Events Coordinator on Cruise Ships > Events & Sales Manager in Hospitality > to Ministry of Testing!

So let’s try to put my career journey in a long-story-short:

  • 2002 - 2007 - 5 years degree in Fine Arts, Painting and working part-time in ZARA, Lisbon

  • 2008 - Tried to get as many exhibitions as I could but had to start working full time in ZARA. Accident happened on my hand, where I cut a tendon in my finger, couldn’t paint for about 6 months, dream destroyed.

  • 2008 - 2010 - Moved to London with very little money in my pocket and decide to take this massive risk and ended up almost being a failure, as I wanted to save money to start a Masters degree in Fine Arts in London… so I started working in ZARA (again) in Piccadilly Circus. Two years down the line, living in London and of course, no money saved at all, I made another big decision! I decided to leave everything behind to travel the world and work at the same time: I joined cruise ships…

  • 2010 - 2013 - I join Royal Caribbean and work on the largest cruise ships in the world with over 8,000 people onboard. My passion for events starts here…
    At RC I looked after all the corporate groups, family events and full cruise charters, giving me a lot of experience and such a variety of different types of events.

  • 2013-2019 - After 3 and half years at RC I decided it was it… the long hours and the long contracts of months on end without a day off was taking its toll… I quit cruise ships and return to the UK, this time Manchester, where I start working in hotels and growing my career from events coordinator to hotel’s sales manager.
    But again, there was something in hospitality that wasn’t for me… the culture, the stress, the lack of care for ones mental health or personal life. So I started looking for options outside the hospitality industry and found…

  • 2020-now! - I become the EventsBoss at Ministry of Testing (after around two very long weeks of waiting for @friendlytester to tell me if I was successful :laughing:)
    But it happened and what a great decision it was. Being part of this community and meeting all the beautiful human beings I’ve met so far as part of this journey has been nothing but rewarding!

What if I hadn’t cut my finger?
What if I hadn’t left Portugal behind with only €900 and moved to London to try my luck?
What if I had done an Architecture degree, instead of Fine Arts as my parents wanted me to?
What if…

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As I referenced in my first post here, I have held many different jobs in my life. Some, like the laborer jobs that I have held, were very short-term, and reinforced the importance of why I was heading down the educational path that I was. Others were not so short-lived, and had their own bit of insidious nuance when they ended. That being said, I always tried to learn from every experience, even if the lesson was just simply: I don’t want to do this any longer/this is not for me.

Sales and such: I have held several sales jobs along the way. I worked cold calling in a Telemarketing center, was a College Recruiter (a sales job of sorts), as well as sold commercial Radio time/ads. I enjoyed the client interaction, but always had a hard time keeping positive in the face of so much rejection! The grind was too much for me, and I knew that this type of work would lead to me becoming jaded quickly, so I moved on.
Lessons: Don’t take everything personally, Learn from your co-workers and supervisors, trust your own gut.

Technical: I worked within the Broadcast Radio industry for just shy of 10 years doing Voice Work, studio production, commercial creation/editing, and engineering. Professionally, this was one of the happiest times of my life, as I was finally using my Radio degree. However, after a few years, I realized that the benefits financially and personally were limited at best, and I discovered that I had literal criminals as bosses (both narrowly avoided jail after I left). I knew that there was no upward mobility within this job, and at the time, the Internet had even further limited my options for a radio career.
Lessons: Be resilient, your degree is not a guarantee, find your own path towards something that could make you happy!

Ill fated directions: During a stretch in the early 2000’s, I worked a series of jobs that were just not for me. I was the manager of a Tobacco shop, an Insurance benefits coordinator, and did my first stint in security work. All of these jobs were less than a year, and left me feeling more and more scared that I would never be able to find something that I could be happy doing. But I remained cautiously optimistic, and kept trying.
Lessons: Spread your wings, find what you can be happy doing and try to make a career out of it, don’t be afraid to take chances!

Career, Interrupted: I first got into software testing through a temp agency. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew that I really enjoyed the work, and that the people around me really were some of the brightest and coolest people I had ever worked with. Fast forward two years and I had turned a temp job into a full time job testing business software! Things remained great - Until they weren’t. My company tried to go IPO and failed. I was in the first round of layoffs. I was unemployed for nearly 4 years afterwards, and couldn’t seem to get back into the industry. I thought all was lost, and sought out therapy to help with panic attacks brought on by the stress of it all. The literal last week that my savings would cover, I got a job in Retail Loss Prevention. While it was a blessing short term, the job wasn’t great. I did that for 4 years. I felt as if I was a failure, and was very hard on myself. A co-worker of mine convinced me to start looking again. Her quote: “You shouldn’t be doing this. You need to be doing big-brain type stuff”. I decided she was right, and began applying once again. The happiest moment I had was when I literally gave the best interview I had given in my life, and then got the job offer to get back into QA/Testing, which of course I took!
Lessons: Don’t give up! You can do this! Sometimes we need to take 2 steps back to go 10 forward!

Not exactly what I expected: My first year back into the industry was extremely difficult: I realized that while I was out of the industry, things changed dramatically, and that my skillset was lacking. Early January, 2023, I had a heart attack at 50 years old. It was a dramatic start to the year, and thankfully, I survived. I now focus on reducing stress in my life whenever possible, and am making great strides in that regard. I work out x6 a week, eat right, and meditate frequently. I have a fantastic supervisor that is very invested in my success and career development, and I am on the right path to improving both my skillset by updating with new skills, as well as increasing my confidence as a tester. While it’s not perfect (spoiler alert: Nothing is), it’s pretty, pretty, pretty good. And that’s good enough for now - I’ll take it.
Lessons: Being happy doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Life is short, take advantage of every moment. A job isn’t everything.

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My career path in tech is more on the software development side, but I’m trying to switch to testing. In 2021 I was interested in testing, so I decided to take a manual testing course, I learned a lot about bases and techniques, and I really liked it. Since this year I have been learning a bit more and I’m trying to apply this to my work. I hope that this year I will be more confident with my knowledge and can get a job as a tester.

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